1. 1

    Riley OConnor

    What is often forgotten in this discussion is that the Overlay was the result of at least five or maybe six public meetings where many residents of the neighborhood came together to work out some sort of plan. We all knew that, at some point, there would be dense development around the MARTA station and the idea was to come up with something which the community would feel comfortable with. A plan. The company doing the study, if I remember correctly, was Urban Collage with funding from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

    Of course, there were the usual DeKalb County oddities along the way. The original specification was for the area immediately around the station, but somehow the area being studied mysteriously extended up to where Town Brookhaven is now located and also extended down Dresden, where other development is now located. None of those things were in place when the original study was conducted.

    To our credit, many of those whom I remember participating in the study are still living in my neighborhood. Of course, people come and people go, which means that our institutional memory of the events which led up to the LCI findings is getting hazy. The only thing to remember is that community input was heavily involved in the process.

    There has always been the assumption that MARTA would take an increasing role in our community, but it hasn’t always been that way. There were a number of bus routes which radiated from the Brookhaven heavy rail station, such as Crosstown Route H on Dresden (which connected Lenox Square and Stone Mountain). Just look at the number of now unused bus bays on the east side of the station. Most of these routes are now either long gone or reconfigured to match traffic patterns. Thus no bus service on Dresden or in Ashford Park nor Drew Valley.

    In my retirement, I have become blissfully ignorant about automobile traffic, until last night, for example. It took me over fifteen minutes to get from the house to City Hall at 6:00 PM. And I was only able to do that by using the side streets. For the record, I did not cut through Brookhaven Heights.

    Presumably, at some point people will start making rational decisions to use other forms of transportation. The whole idea behind the LCI study was to accommodate that idea.

  2. 2

    Thomas Porter

    The Overlay’s biggest flaws are in the blunt force trauma to abutting neighborhoods, and, the extremely low parking requirements – especially for restaurants which have a voracious appetite for parking. Unlike Virginia Highlands for example, the parking issues came as no surprise to Brookhaven, yet we’re blowing the opportunity to correct. The Overlay presumes there are about 10 people in each car, I doubt the average is even 2. Now this repair to this code is delayed AGAIN. Thank you Council!

  3. 3

    On the Record

    Updating the code is analogous to repairing a critical component of an airplane engine during flight. Everything keeps moving. Development isn’t waiting for the code update, it’s happening now.

  4. 4

    Riley OConnor

    I think that the Overlay wishfully thinks that everybody will be taking MARTA or will strictly be locals walking in. When 1441 Dresden was up for approval by the DeKalb County Commission, one of our representatives acknowledged that parking would be an issue but let it ride by anyway. Her comment: “Well, everybody will be taking MARTA.” Which was a nasty shot at MARTA. And, of course, parking has always been a problem at 1441 and its vicinity.

    Back in the day (circa early 1980’s), the City of Atlanta tried something similar by limiting the amount of parking space available as part of new buildings (55 Park Place comes to mind). This was done on the presumption that people would then hop on MARTA rather than drive. In the usual laws of unintended consequence, what happened was that the senior executives got the cherry parking places and the others were left to their own resources. Seeing an opportunity, investors promptly leveled a series of older buildings and opened up street level parking lots. The lots are still there.

    The reality is that you are not going to be able to pry people out of their cars by force. The only way is to make the alternatives so attractive that a car soon becomes just another alternative.

  5. 5


    Karl O’Reilly, will you be considering running for political office in the near future? Or, is it your preference to observe, commentate, assess and review?

  6. 6

    Riley OConnor

    The only political position that I might be interested in would be Adult Entertainment Facility Inspector.

  7. 7


    Have you been to the meetings this summer? Have you seen the survey results or petition signatures? Have you read comments etc? You say “the idea was to come up with something which the community would feel comfortable with” the above are examples to prove that with the exception of the usual suspects the community is NOT comfortable with the overlay!

    The sad part is the usual suspects are weaseling the community out of having a say again. Maybe we should change the name of the city to be more reflective, something like Boughthaven, were representatives are in the pockets of the friends of the overlay who are in bed with developers.

  8. 8

    Royal Flush

    It’s pretty incredible that the city is still trying to get their act together on Zoning/Overlay/LCI/Character Study/Greenway/Comprehensive plans. Perhaps a 10 year plan (within budget) and zoning that reflects that plan would be most cost effective and most simple. Why does planning have to be so complicated? I am tired of my tax money going towards funding of these studies/plans/rewrites. Get it together, Brookhaven!

  9. 9


    If we continue to push the Overlay rewrite down the calendar, we should extend the moratorium on new development to match. That’s a reasonable request to Mattison’s extension.

    Second, MARTA manipulated the process by increasing the density assumptions in 2011, or whenever, when they changed Brookhaven Oglethorpe MARTA from a ‘neighborhood’ station to a ‘town center’ station.

    Next, eliminate the Overlay District boundary entirely from everything south of Apple Valley down Dresden.

    Last, the MARTA TOD sewer solution is now being sold as ‘we’ll divert half the sewer into the Historic Brookhaven.’ That’s no solution. It simply adds another neighborhood to the coming deluge of sewer issues.

  10. 10


    “…in the interest of the work being performed by the most qualified vendor and “getting it right.” Raises an eyebrow about all the character area studies we are doing with Sycamore and TSW. Why were they qualified enough for the rest of the city but not the Overlay? Does this mean the rest of us are getting a superficial, less qualified study? I hope that’s not the case.
    Looking for a new vendor casts shade on our efforts ‘to get it right’ throughout the entire city. Plus, because faith in City Hall is still wobbly, people may think they are looking for a vendor who is biased or bought out. They may wonder if this is an intentional delaying act to subvert the high density moratorium.

    Hello City Hall, if this new vendor search is in all good faith, you should extend our moratorium.

  11. 11


    Well said! I don’t trust anything from city hall any more – what made Bates change his mind and put the breaks on.. A call from his wealthy buddies at the BPCA?

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